28 Sep 2021

28 Sep 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Network complexity of rubber plantations is lower than tropical forests for soil bacteria but not fungi

Guoyu Lan1,2, Chuan Yang1,2, and Zhixiang Wu1,2 Guoyu Lan et al.
  • 1Rubber Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, Danzhou City, Hainan Province, 571737, P. R. China
  • 2Danzhou Investigation & Experiment Station of Tropical Crops, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Danzhou City, Hainan Province, 571737, P. R. China

Abstract. Soil microbial communities play a crucial role in ecosystem functioning. Past research has examined the effects of forest conversion on soil microbial composition and diversity, but it remains unknown how networks within these communities respond to forest conversion such as when tropical rainforest are replaced with rubber plantations. In this study, we used Illumina sequencing and metagenome shotgun sequencing to analyze bacterial and fungal community network structure in a large number of soil samples from tropical rainforest and rubber plantation sites in Hainan Island, China. Our results showed only a few shared network edges were observed in both bacterial and fungal communities, which indicates that forest conversion altered soil microbial network structure. We found a greater degree of network structure and a larger number of network edges among bacterial networks in samples from tropical rainforest compared to samples from rubber plantations. The difference was especially pronounced during the rainy season and indicates that rainforest bacterial networks were more complex than rubber plantation bacterial networks. However, rubber plantations soil fungal networks showed more higher links and higher network degree, suggesting that forest conversion does not reduce fungal network complexity. We found that some groups of Acidobacteria were keystone taxa in our tropical rainforest soils, while Actinobacteria were keystone taxa in rubber plantation soils. In addition, seasonal change had a strong effect on network degree, the complexity of soil bacterial and fungal network structure. In conclusion, forest conversion changed soil pH and other soil properties, such as available potassium (AK) and total nitrogen (TN), which resulted in changes in bacterial and fungal network composition and structure.

Guoyu Lan et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-98', J. Aaron Hogan, 17 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Guoyu LAN, 08 Dec 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-98', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Nov 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Guoyu LAN, 08 Dec 2021

Guoyu Lan et al.


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Short summary
Forest conversion altered both bacterial and fungal soil networks, reduced bacterial network complexity and enhanced fungal network complexity. The reason is that forest conversion changed soil pH and other soil properties, which altered bacterial composition and subsequent network structure. Our study demonstrates the impact of forest conversion for soil network structure, which has important implications for ecosystem functions and health of soil ecosystems in tropical regions.